A NATIONAL chain of stores is in late-stage negotiations to open a new shop at the former Woolworths premises in Malton.

The news comes as several other stores – including businesses that have served the town for generations – face closure.

The Original Factory Shop is due to complete legal matters before the end of next week, with the new store expected to open in April.

Market director Colin Leggatt said the firm had been looking for premises in the area for some time.

“Malton is a considered a model town for us – the problem has been finding suitable premises big enough and at the right price.

“We have taken the former Woolworths store and the matter is with our solicitors at the moment with the aim of completing before the end of February and opening in April.”

Established in 1969, the Original Factory Store now has 130 shops across the country selling a wide range of discounted items.

The chain also has a store at the Hazel Bush on the A64.

The news comes as a number of other stores in Malton face closure.

Ladies clothes shop Trio is to close in the next few weeks following over 40 years of trading in the town.

Anderson’s sports shop, which was founded in the 1800s, is also up for sale.

Frances Whitton, owner of The Courtyard Gallery in Market Place, said she would soon be closing after the recession had hit her trade badly.

She said: “I’ve been open for five years and at first business built up very well, but since the Northern Rock crisis in 2007 things have gone down in term of growth and it isn’t worth signing up for a new lease.

“It’s a great shame as there is so much local talent out there.”

Also closing at the beginning of April is Jennifer’s lingerie shop in Wheelgate.

Owner Nicola Hainsworth said the last two years had been particularly difficult and with the lease running out she was opting for a change.

She said: “You need to make money in business to keep going and although I’ve enjoyed the last 13 years, the last couple have been very stressful.”

The future of discount retailer Ethel Austin, which has a branch in Malton, also remains in the balance after the company called in the administrators last week.

Denys Townsend, chairman of Malton and Norton in Business, said he was optimistic about the future and was pleased to see new businesses were opening in the town.

“Some leases are not being renewed because people are retiring, while others are for business reasons,” he added.

“Business in Action along with the Fitzwilliam Estate are working hard to attract new businesses to take over the shops.

“We are all working to support the town but it has to be recognised that we are in a massive recession.”

Roddy Bushell, manager of the Fitzwilliam Estate, said yesterday: “We are working hard to attract more shoppers to Malton through various promotions, Malton Food, Pop into Malton, and the free parking in the market square.

“We also use the windows of vacant shops for display purposes.”